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Old 05-31-12, 06:57 AM   #1
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First decent bike?

Hello everyone

first poster, newbie here!

I'm considering buying a low-maintenance commuter bike that is versatile enough to do some light off-road. Over time, I'd also love to use it to learn/tinker with.

I managed to find a Bianchi San Jose pro (for ~650usd, it's basically new but for some reason it lacks the fenders) which is surprising given that I live in Europe and the bike was marketed only in the US.

I read around here that the San Jose has a relaxed geometry however for me, who has never ever ridden a road bike, the position was everything but relaxed, mainly because the handlebar was far to low. A more upright position would be much more preferable.

I am ~176cm (5'9") with an inseam of 84cm. The available frame is a 55.
Do you think the frame is the proper size (see above link for geometry details) for me?
If so, should I just replace the handlebar/stem for something different (any suggestions?) or it would be better for me to consider a different bike altogether?

Given that it is the pro version of the San Jose it means that, among other things, it features a carbon fiber fork. Is it doable to swap it with an equivalent (same tire clearance, fender mounts, cantilever&disc brakes mounts) chromoly fork? I guess this is a naive question... Btw, I would do it mainly for safety concerns given the number of potholes on the roads here. Is this concern unfounded? Should I just stick with the carbon fork?

Thanks in advance
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Old 05-31-12, 07:40 AM   #2
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At 5,9 you should be able to ride a 55 even thought it might be a tad big. I am 5,8 and I ride a 54 but often think I could happily go to a 55. I doubt that you will need to swap the fork, the fender mount hole is probably there in the crown as in the picture you is probably just needing some fenders added. I would keep the carbon fiber fork if possible. It will be more comfortable and lighter.

My buddy loves his San Jose. Single speed is the only limiter but many people love SS bikes. I rode one of my SS for my 30 mile RT commute and liked it quite a bit but I have no big hills. For me, SS just means that you think differently about speed and just tend to enjoy the ride a bit more rather than hammering as fast as you can go (or maybe you still do that but spin way faster ). I also logged my fastest 100 mile ride on a fixed gear so single speeds are only as fast/slow as the gearing that is on them.
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Old 06-01-12, 03:01 AM   #3
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If you are going to replace the fork on a new bike, you bought the wrong bike. The link you posted says the fork is steel, not carbon. Generally bikes that have horizontal top tubes are not relaxed geometry bikes. Sloping top tube is a sign of relaxed geometry. I'm 5'7" and ride 52cm bike. So the 55 might be too large; it will depend on the effective top tube. I don't recommend purchasing this bike without test riding it first.

You will adapt to the drop bars as you ride more and the muscles in your back get used to the hunched over riding position. The LBS will generally swap out stem at no cost in order to find tune fit. You might also want to change the stem angle in addition to a shorter stem. These two changes will provide a less aggressive riding position.
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Old 06-13-12, 06:52 AM   #4
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thanks for all the replies.

A few additions and a question.

I managed to spend some time to setup and try the bike. It seems that the size fits me ok.
Just to summarize, my measures are:
height 176
pbh 84.5/85cm
The geometry for the bike can be found here (the one reported on the page linked in the first post is not correct) :
The Bianchi san jose and the volpe share the same frame.
The standover height, which is not shown in the page above, for the 55cm frame is a tad less then 80cm.
I am no expert at all but by looking at the numbers it seems that the 55cm frame is the right size for me. I fear the 52cm would be too small, especially if I stick to the Rivendell guidelines.

I asked to have the stem flipped and the whole position seems much more manageable. Hands on the flats give a very upright position but even when the hands are on the hoods or drops the position felt ok.
Of course, I have to adapt to the more aggressive positions since I have been bikeless for 10 or so years and even when I was a kid I had never ridden a proper road bike.

Finally, do you think that 600$ for this bike is the right price? the bicycle is basically new but fact remains that it is a '09 bike and the san jose is now a discontinued model.
Do you think there are better choices at this price point (with similar characteristics) ?
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